bon voyage

Discussion in 'English Only' started by easychen, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. easychen Senior Member

    How do you pronounce "bon voyage" as a native English-speaker? Do you follow the French pronunciation?

    Many thanks!
  2. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    Yes. I studied French, once upon a time, but even before that, I my pronunciation was pretty close to the French pronunciation. Most Americans seem to pronounce it a bit more like 'bahn', but otherwise the same.
  3. ABBA Stanza Senior Member

    Hessen, DE
    English (UK)
    Well, we try to (with varying degrees of success!). The "bon" bit would probably only sound genuine if we were suffering from a bout of influenza at the time, and many of us would probably forget that the "voy" part should actually sound like "vwoy". I suspect that most people would probably get the long "a" in "age" right, though.

    The same goes for "bon appetit", where we likewise attempt the french pronounciation, even if many (most?) would probably forget that the final "t" should be silent.

    But at least we show willing!
  4. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    Although I often hear them pronounced close to the French, I have heard many terms of French origin deliberately anglicised with humourous intent (if not actual effect):

    Bon voyage - bon voyj - bon voyaajee
    Mange tout - mainj toot - mangee toots
    Laissez faire - Lazy fair - lacey fare
  5. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    I usually hear it "bahn-voy-YAHzh" in English (and "bone ah-puh-TEE"). In other words, the vowels are mutilated and the n is pronounced. You could say it "follows" the French pronunciation, but at quite a distance.
  6. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Non-English expressions imported into English are subject vast differences of pronunciation and in some cases, bastardization.

    In other words, you can expect just about anything from English speakers who aren't comfortable with the original language.

    I don't know whether you intended the "you" to be personal or impersonal, but I follow the French pronuciation as closely as I am able.
  7. lmyyyks Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    I suggest "Bone vwayash"
  8. easychen Senior Member

    I know nothing about French, and it's difficult for me to say the term when I'm speaking English. So, is there any English expression equivalent to it?
  9. yourfairlady05 Senior Member

    English - United States
    I hear people say "bone" or "bawn" for "bon" as for "voyage" I think we try to pronounce it, but obviously we aren't French so it doesn't work.
    As for alternate phrases you could say "Have a nice/good trip!"
  10. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Where I live, our Southern twang is such that French bon is no problem to pronounce the French way (nasal o, no /n/), but "bon voyage" is a fixed expression and starts with "bahn", rhyming with "Don". Native speakers of English have no trouble with "moi" pronounced the French way either (mwah), but in "bon voyage", "voy" comes out rhyming with "boy". For the "(y)age" part, we rhyme with our AE "garage", which either makes the same "AHzh" sound as in French or comes out with a final "j" so that it rhymes with "Dodge". Our vowel in "Don" and "Dodge" is "ah", not "aw" or anything like /o/.

    If all you have is English sounds, I suggest you stick with how other non-French-speaking English speakers pronounce it: "bahn-voy-YAHzh" or "bahn voy (y)AHJ".
    I must say, I have never heard it pronounced that way.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  11. Aoyama Senior Member

    川崎市、巴里 (黎)
    仏(佛)法語צרפתית Clodoaldien
    In short, most English native speakers will pronounce that as :
    bon (no n, nasal "on") vo-yaj, whereas someone knowing French will pronounce it as
    bon voi-iaj / voi-yaj (oi as in voilà), because y = ii.
  12. lmyyyks Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Maybe my English is a little bit twisted by my mother tongue:(
    And I'm not too sure about the French "g" is the English "sh" or what

    To make it more clearer
    "bon" is like "b-oh-ng"
    "voy"="voi" like "vwa", because the French "oi" is pronounced as the English "wa"
    For "yage", i would say "ya-sh", some would say "ya-j", I'm not sure
  13. Cagey post mod

    English - US
    It turns out that Merriam-Webster has audio clips of bon voyage,

    It has two slightly different pronunciations. The first one is the way most speakers of AmE pronounce it, I believe. The second is closer to the French pronunciation.
  14. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    On the audio clips, the speaker is apparently so tired that her zh is whispered, almost a sh. To me, a frank sh would be wrong, but a j would sound natural enough.

    Her second bon is clipped, cut off short as if she is stammering. Otherwise it is the French sound, but I have never heard it clipped off that way in French or English.

    Both her voys rhyme with boy, so neither version is the French pronunciation.
  15. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    There may be speakers in southern France who say it almost that way, but an ng sound on bon and sh on voyage would tell me the speaker is probably Chinese.
  16. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I've always had vwah-yahzh - is the voy pronunciation a standard American pronunciation then? I suppose it must be if the dictionary says so.

    It's not something people say a lot, I think. Most people are more likely to say, 'Have a good trip', I think. I think some of the older expressions like Godspeed are worth reviving!:D
  17. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    It's what I've always heard from AE speakers with no knowledge of French.

    Where you live, how is bon pronounced?
    I like "Godspeed", but I wouldn't use it around people I don't know. (They might think it's "holier than thou" or sacrilegious, because of the first syllable.)
  18. SeaMunkay New Member

    It is similar to 'enjambment', 'rendezvous', and other vocabulary derived from French: there is no standardized pronunciation as it varies from individual to individual. On a personal level however, I tend to adopt the French method so as to honor the word's origins :)-- also, French is such a mellifluous language! Its harmonious quality is only realized when native speakers enunciate it properly though, and I have yet to acquire their skill!
  19. Katejo Senior Member

    English - UK
    As someone who has studied French, I always try to keep to the French pronounciation of borrowed words and phrases but many people don't!

  20. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Oh, I give it a nasalised sound, as in French, but others might just give it an English sound, to rhyme with con.
  21. lian.alon22 Senior Member

    The French pronunciation is the most commonly excepted pronunciation, even in English, but some who don't know enough about French may say bon like "bawn", but sometimes this even comes as "bawn voy-age", the last syllable pronounced like the English "age". Some people do this just for fun.

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